Nigeria has successfully launched two Earth observation satellites which could be used to monitor weather in a region seasonally ravaged by disasters.
The NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X spacecraft were lofted into orbit aboard a Russian rocket.
Nigeria collaborated with British engineers, and the satellites are being monitored from control stations in Guildford, UK, and Abuja in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan praised the successful launch.
Mr Jonathan called the event “another milestone in our nation’s effort to solve national problems through space technology”.
The imaging satellites could help with the monitoring of disaster-prone areas, especially the extreme weather conditions of droughts and excessive rainfall that displaced 500,000 last year in the Sahel on the Sahara Desert’s southern fringe.
The satellites can help Nigeria enhance food security through monthly crop monitoring, assist with burgeoning urban planning demands and, through the development of engineering skills, advance the country’s technological capability.
Dr S O Mohammed, the head of The Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) contracted to build the satellites with 26 Nigerian engineers working alongside British engineers. He said, “NigeriaSat-2 will significantly boost African capabilities for remote sensing applications, specifically for natural resource management.